Jailed and awaiting trial on armed robbery and attempted murder charges, a 19-year-old Middle River man is facing new charges that he arranged to have two witnesses in that case killed.
Joshua Anthony Mumford was arrested Monday night and charged with two
counts of soliciting first-degree murder, court records show. Police persuaded
Mumford's cellmate at the Baltimore County Detention Center to wear a digital
recording device, which captured Mumford refusing suggestions that the
witnesses could be kidnapped and held for a while rather than killed,
according to court documents.
The two witnesses, 19-year-old Ramin Atri and 20-year-old Kosmas Koukoulis,
were shot - allegedly by Mumford - on Oct. 21 in White Marsh when Mumford
tried to steal money and four pounds of marijuana from the men, whom he had
met earlier that night, court records state. They were expected to testify at
the Feb. 28 trial of Mumford and two co-defendants - Angelo L. Mumford, 21,
and Dustin C. Fifer, 21, both of Middle River.
"I'm shocked and I'm worried," said Atri's mother, who asked that her name
not be published for fear that her family might be harmed. "I don't know if
they'll shoot me or my family."
The arrest is the most recent example of what county prosecutors say is an
increase in attempts to interfere with witness testimony in Baltimore County
"It is my experience that traditionally we have not had a problem with
witness intimidation in Baltimore County," said Jason G. League, an assistant
Baltimore County state's attorney. "However, times are a-changin'."
League prosecuted a murder case last year in which the defendant,
Christopher A. Bacote, was accused of threatening witnesses. Charges of
obstruction of justice were dropped, however, when Bacote pleaded guilty to
first-degree murder and a handgun charge for fatally shooting a Morgan State
University student after a college party in October 2003 at a Timonium bowling
Bacote, 20, of Baltimore was sentenced in November to 50 years in prison.
Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy has said that witness
intimidation is a part of nearly all her office's homicide cases. Baltimore
Mayor Martin O'Malley identified witness intimidation as a major public safety
issue in his State of the City address this week. And recent high-profile
instances of intimidation - including the firebombing of the home of a woman
who called police about drug dealing in her neighborhood, and a locally
produced DVD called Stop Snitching that warns crime witnesses to keep their
mouths shut - have helped give the issue new urgency.
At least three witness-intimidation bills are being considered by the
General Assembly, including a measure proposed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
that would permit some statements by intimidated witnesses to be used in court
even if the witnesses are not present. The bill also would increase the
maximum penalty for witness intimidation to 20 years in prison.
Joshua Mumford, charged in the solicitation-for-murder case in Baltimore
County, faces up to life in prison if convicted.
His alleged plans for the witnesses in his court case first came to
authorities' attention Jan. 18 through Mumford's cellmate at the Baltimore
County Detention Center, according to charging documents. The cellmate told
police that Mumford said he wanted to have the two witnesses killed and asked
him whether he "has someone who can take care of something like that," court
At the detectives' request, the cellmate agreed to wear a digital recorder
to the detention center and resume his conversation with Mumford, charging
According to the documents, Mumford told his cellmate "that he has no
conscience and will not regret the killing." During the conversation, the
cellmate made a phone call and had Mumford talk to a county homicide detective
who posed as someone named "KC" and talked to Mumford about getting "the
payment for this contract murder," according to court records.
When Mumford could not make arrangements for the $1,500 payment, he agreed
in a conversation taped Jan. 24 "to kill anyone for [the cellmate] or his
friends when he gets out of jail," according to court documents.
A Baltimore County District Court judge ordered yesterday that Mumford, who
had been held in lieu of $250,000 bail, be held without bail on the new
Correction: A headline yesterday incorrectly described the initial charge against a Middle River man who, according to court records, has additionally been charged with two counts of soliciting first-degree murder. The man was initially charged with attempted murder.
Murder suspect charged with soliciting killing of witnesses
Officials say intimidation on the rise in Balto. Co
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